HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

GOP congressman quits as co-chair of House moderates

The congressman who helped get a divided GOP House to pass an ObamaCare overhaul bill this year unexpectedly resigned Tuesday as co-chairman of the moderate group that he led to a final, decisive vote.

New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur said he quit leading the Tuesday Group because its members have "different objectives and a different sense of governing than I do." He still remains in the group.

MacArthur and North Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, helped get the overhaul bill passed with an amendment that gave states some flexibility in allowing insurers to increase premiums costs for customers with pre-existing conditions and drop some coverage requirements under ObamaCare.  

The GOP-controlled House passed the bill May 4 by a 217-213 margin.

A financial audit on the bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is due out Wednesday, as Senate Republicans try to write their own version.

The House bill passed over opposition from all voting Democrats and 20 Republicans, many of whom are in the Tuesday Group and argued that the measure went too far in diminishing health care coverage for people.

"While some embraced my efforts as co-chairman, others have bristled," said MacArthur, a former insurance executive. "Clearly, our group is divided. Many in the Tuesday Group are eager to live up to our ideal of being problem-solvers, while others seem unwilling to compromise."

To be sure, essentially every congressional Republican -- like President Trump in 2016 -- ran on a winning promise to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law known as ObamaCare.  

The House had already passed dozens of ObamaCare repeal or partial repeal bills, but the vote earlier this month marked the first time such a bill was passed with a Republican in the White House.

House Republicans in March had to cancel a final vote on an overhaul bill over a lack of support.

"Inaction on health care was a non-starter for me, and it should be for our entire party,” MacArthur, a two-term congressman, also said in a written statement. “We owe it to the American people who elected us to fix the ObamaCare mess. … It's clear that some in the Tuesday Group have different objectives and a different sense of governing than I do."

MacArthur and other House Republicans have gotten an earful at town hall meeting over the past couple of months from voters worried about losing their  health insurance as a result of the GOP efforts.

Democrats hoping to defeat MacArthur in next year's elections criticized him Tuesday.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a group dedicated to getting party members elected and reelected, said MacArthur showed "a disturbing lack of regard for the families of his district" and called him "a right-wing ideologue."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.